A Venomous Snake Encounter, Lost In Philadelphia, 50-Feet Stuck In A Tree….All Have One Thing In Common, ‘Critical Thinking!’
Is your child able to problem-solve any situation requiring Critical Thinking? Children need this important skill in order to develop logical reasoning, mental awareness, and reasonable judgments. Yet, some children are so overcome with emotional FEAR enabling their ability to clearly think through a complex situation. Here are a few scenarios to enhance critical thinking skills in children of all ages.
I have always intentionally raised my children to ‘critically think’ through situations of life. Yes, I would like to think maybe its due in part to how they are being raised, but more than anything its different scenarios I have arranged without realizing, critical thinking will be needed!
Maybe it’s partly their personalities, or maybe something in their brains reminds them to apply logic where FEAR wants to take control. Either way I am thankful, as the older they become the harder it is to logically reason hard situations.
Scenario #1– Hiking through A National Wildlife Refuge with my 7-year-old and friends. It was imperative we have a snake awareness talk before continuing on. Seconds later while reading a sign on the path, my daughter says to her friend rather calmly, “Snake,!” as she is just about to step on a venomous Cottonmouth. As we backed-up slowly to give the snake some space, my daughter was absolutely OKAY with this situation, her friend on the other hand was not.
Because my daughter was able to calmly say where the snake was, this caused her friend to not overreact in fear, which may have led her to accidentally step on the snake at that point if she had.
Even though the situation turned out well, it brought awareness to me that FEAR is a driving force for children.
As much as I possibly can I teach my children about the animals living around us.
Knowledge is power, and when we learn about the importance of every animal, YES even a snake, with this children see the relationship and role they play in the circle of life. This also debunks myths!
I can’t be certain it was fondness of snakes that made her react so calmly, but I can say she is not afraid of animals in general.
And we have since learned what to do in a snake bite situation, now knowing not all snakes release venom when they bite, as well as The National Wildlife Refuge’s plan if a snake bite was to occur.
Critical Thinkers Are Always Acquiring Knowledge!
Scenario #2– Sightseeing in Philly, and our first stop was the Visitor Center. Moments after obtaining our Independence Hall tickets, a bathroom break occurred, which is where my 12-year-old was separated from us. Panicking was OUT of the question. Walking outside for a brief moment I stopped to think, he wouldn’t just leave, yet where would he go? It occurred to me BOOKS, yes the gift shop……..And that is exactly where I found him, crouched down reading a historical fiction novel, which explains why dad didn’t see him the first time perusing through so quickly.
I know what you must be thinking OMG! Yes that same thought came to me when I didn’t see my boy with my husband. Yet, if you knew this child the way I know him, you would know keeping track of him is next to impossible, because he has been lost more times than I care to count.
He has never panicked once, not ever! And the first time he was really lost was hiking at age 8, he used his critical thinking skills to retrace his tracks back to the starting point, found someone with a cell phone and proceeded to call us.
In the first situation we had to ‘critically think’ as to what and where he would go, because he never realized he was ‘lost.’ And the second time he had to remain calm, work with what information he had, and be guided by instinct. This was an amazing way for him to tap into his intuition.
Teach children to formulate SAFE plans in their minds of what they will do if they were ever lost. Talk about these plans often AND make sure they know your phone number!
I have seen too many kids frozen in fear, with tears streaming down their face, because they have been separated from their grown-up.
Critical Thinkers Act, Not ReAct!
Scenario #3- Playing in trees can be exciting and scary for any child who has to overcome multiple mental mindsets. And when your age 7, life can be frustrating when your height doesn’t exactly cooperate with you as your 50-feet up.
Following older siblings on a course with elements not exactly suitable for her age, she became stuck. She was unable to unhook herself from one cable to the next, as it was slightly out of reach. Calling for staff attention, he began talking her through ways of reaching success. Watching her face I knew she was growing more and more frustrated, and of course quitting crossed her mind. The staff said to me ‘just watch, let’s see what she can do!’ Minutes later she realized if she stood on another cable she would be that much taller and possibly reach the cable she needed. Several tries later, there was a proud moment of accomplishment for her as she zip-lined to the next element. Well-Done!
This situation is about backing off as the grown-up and seeing what happens when children have space to think!
Some children think slower than others, and if adults are always giving advice, talking and answering questions then it is impossible for any child to come to their own conclusion.
BE like the Adventure Park staff……….‘Just Watch, and See What That Child Can Do!’
Critical Thinkers Push Past Mental Blocks!
TOP FIVE CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS:
- Analytical- Part of critical thinking is the ability to carefully examine something, and draw a conclusion.
- Communication- Clearly expressing oneself in any situation.
- Creativity- Thinking ‘outside the box.’
- Open-Minded- Knowing one’s limitations, and seeking assistance when necessary.
- Problem Solving- Consciously looking for solutions.
Helping children think beyond their Emotional Fear and utilize the knowledge they already have is the first step towards raising a ‘Critical Thinker.’ And when situations of difficulty occur, their confidence level of handling it with ACTION is more likely to surface.